PolyCast logo

Over the weekend of June 15, I participated in a bi-weekly Civilization podcast called "PolyCast". This episode was number 175, and it was titled "In Response to That", and focused on responding to several forum topics. The episode can be streamed in its entirety at here.

It was an interesting show, full of confusion and technical difficulties when it was broadcast live; although some of those difficulties were edited out in order to fit into the standard 1-hour format for the show archive. The show started out with difficulties getting the audio to work in the live steam, and it took us around 20 minutes to get up and running. That was a great start to the show. On top of that, I suffered several power outages at my house that disconnected me from the group chat and caused me to stumble through the show's closing sign-off. Oops. I'll do better next time.

This was my second time on PolyCast. The first time I appeared on the show, I predicted Civ V's first expansion. This show wasn't quite as prophetical (is that a word?), but I can't be Nostradamus every day!

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This review was originally published 10/17/2010 on Game Observer (now defunct as of 05/13/2014). In anticipation of the soon-to-be-released Brave New World expansion pack, the review has been republished here for archival purposes.

Civilization V

Civilization V cover art

For better or worse, I probably won’t be able to go back to Civilization IV after playing this.

I want to put my review into perspective before I begin. I’m not a day-one Civilization player. I didn���t start playing the franchise until Civilization III (after it had already been out for several years and both expansions had been released). Civilization IV, however, is probably my favorite video game ever -- or at least, my favorite PC game. The only games that I’ve probably logged more hours with than Civ IV are the Sims 2 (plus all the expansions) and the cumulative sum of all the Madden games I’ve played since 2000.

My hopes for Civilization V were sky-high from the moment the first details of gameplay were revealed about a year ago. This was despite my misgivings about the vendor and edition-exclusive gameplay content -- gameplay content should NEVER be exclusive to a vendor or edition of a game; anybody who buys a game should have the right to play any content that is released for the game (even if they have to pay extra for it) regardless of where they got it or when they bought! But now is not the place to discuss industry politics -- I’ll save that rant for another day.

Back on-topic: Civilization V promised a lot: competitive, tactical combat with a totally new rule-set; intelligent, interactive AI leaders; a simpler, streamlined interface; and simpler, more streamlined gameplay without sacrificing any of the series’ trademark depth. I’ve been spending almost every free moment playing this game for the two weeks since release. Does it measure up?

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Civilization V

I recently uploaded a new Civilization V mod onto the Steam Workshop. The new mod adds a National Park building that is unlocked with the Scientific Theory technology. The National Park can be built in cities that contain natural wonders, and the National Park will provide bonus Gold, Science, and Culture to all natural wonders within the city radius, as well as provide 3 global happiness.

Civ V mod - National Park
National Park building adds gold, culture, and science to all natural wonders within the city,
as well as providing 3 global happiness.

UPDATE (July 18, 2013 9:35 PST): National Park updated for Brave New World expansion

I have updated this mod for the new Brave New World expansion. If you have BNW installed, the National Park will now be unlocked with the Railroad technology, and the building will improve the Tourism output of your city.

If you are still playing Gods & Kings, the mod does not change the prereq or functionality of the National Park for that expansion. Updating the mod should not affect saved games for G&K players.

Thanks for playing, and enjoy!

UPDATE (July 24, 2013 10:30 PDT): National Park changed to provide +5 tourism instead of percentage modifier

Version 4 of my National Park mod has been published. The update changes the 25% conversion of culture to tourism so that the building provides a static +5 tourism. This was accomplished by using the TechEnhancedTourism and EnhancedYieldTech properties so that Railroad (the unlocking tech) adds +5 tourism to the building. This is the same method that is used for the Eiffel Tower world wonder.

This was done so that the National Park will always provide a substantial tourism output to the city (equivalent to 2 1/2 Great Works), regardless of how culturally strong the city is. Since many Natural Wonders do not generate large amounts of culture, I couldn't expect that a city containing the National Park would necessarily have enough culture for the 25% conversion to be worthwhile.

The only major downside to this change is that the Airport and Hotel don't synergize quite as well with the National Park. Aw well, can't be perfect, I guess...

UPDATE (March 5, 2014 11:15 am PST): Yields of BNW natural wonders fixed

Apparently, I had neglected to include yield modifiers for the new Brave New World natural wonders. I have just uploaded a revision that addresses this issue so that all natural wonders in the game now include the bonus culture, gold, and science from the National Park building.

This fix is available in Version 5 of the National Park mod.

I did discover one other issue: it appears that Isabella's trait ("Seven Cities of Gold") does not double the bonus yield provided by the National Park. It seems that the core game does not check the Buildings_FeatureYieldChanges table when applying Spain's trait. This will likely require an update to the game DLL, which I do not have the time to implement at the moment. I hope to be able to update the mod to address this issue at a future date.

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Iron Man 3 - title Iron Man 3 poster

I have very mixed feelings about Iron Man 3.

On the one hand, the movie throws some very unexpected curve balls at the audience, and departs from other big-budget action movies by being a very thoughtful and introspective movie. It provided everything that Star Trek Into Darkness failed to deliver. If the people who wrote Iron Man 3 had been involved with writing Into Darkness, then that movie would have benefited greatly. Iron Man 3 succeeds because the writers are really trying to say things with their movie, even if they have to twist the audience's expectations and break a few eggs to do it.

On the other hand, the movie suffers from some pacing and script issues, and it blunders with its primary villain(s).

The core of the plot is about Stark coming to terms with the events of The Avengers and deciding if he can truly hang with genuine supermen and gods. It's a very introspective film (which is something that the Iron Man movies have been very good at). In fact, most of the movie revolves around Stark being forced to solve problems as a regular person, rather than being able to rely on a fancy, weaponized suit of armor.

Stark has reexamine his goals and objectives and try to figure out where he wants to draw the line regarding problems he can deal with, and problems he can't deal with, and also with whether or not he should deal with them. The internal conflict within the character is the primary moving for much of the movie's plot, and Robert Downy Junior pulls it all off with the grace and style that we've come to expect from him with this character.

Iron Man 3 - bros on the couch
Tony Stark is going to be stuck solving problems without his fancy armor throughout most of the movie.

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Star Trek Into Darkness

Who doesn't like a good hamburger?

Hamburgers are a pretty casual, always-tasty meal that can range from a bland and simple fast-food cheeseburger to a gourmet bacon burger.

Me, I'm a big ribs guy! They're my favorite. Lone Star Steakhouse always made the best ribs - ribs fit for a Caesar's Memorial Day barbeque - but it's hard for me to say "no" to just about any rack of ribs. Sadly, all the Lone Stars in town are closed, and I've yet to find a true successor.

Star Trek Into Darkness poster

How does this relate to Star Trek Into Darkness? The original Star Trek series and Star Trek: the Next Generation are like those Lone Star ribs to me. They're my favorite. A really good science fiction movie - like 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Terminator, or Moon, or maybe even the recently-released Oblivion - is like a visit to [say] Famous Dave's to have some ribs. It's good, but it's still not Lone Star good! These new Star Trek movies, however, aren't even like ribs to begin with. They're more like hamburgers. Yeah sure they're a satisfying meal, but sometimes, I don't want a hamburger; I want ribs!

Into Darkness isn't what I wanted in a "Star Trek" movie at all. Even worse, it's worth as a movie is mostly superficial.

Into Darkness reminded me a lot of two other Star Trek movies: Star Trek V: the Final Frontier and Star Trek Nemesis.

The Final Frontier is widely-regarded as the worst original-cast Star Trek movie (and rightfully so). It's premise is silly. The script is poorly-written (although still much more coherent than many of today's movie scripts - including Into Darkness). And the special-effects are atrocious! It was like one of those really bad episodes of the original series brought to life on the big screen with a slightly higher budget. But it did have one redeeming characteristic. The beginning and end of the movie consist of the camping scenes with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, and these scenes are actually really good. They're character-driven scenes in which we learn a little bit about the adventurous spirit of Kirk, his greatest fear, and the desire to explore that drove him to join Starfleet. It manages to further develop a character that had been around in movies and television for over 20 years, and whom one would have thought couldn't be further developed at all.

Kirk: I'm not trying to break any records. I'm doing this because I enjoy it. Not to mention the most important reason for climbing a mountain...
Spock: And that is ... ?
Kirk: Because it's there.
   -Star Trek V: the Final Frontier

As bad as that movie was, this simple exchange in this simple scene exemplifies what Kirk, Starfleet, and Star Trek are all about: the desire to go out there and experience the universe! Even if it's dangerous, the rewards of the experience, and the discovery that it brings is worth the risk. This is one of the prime ideologies behind Star Trek. Sure we could send probes out to collect data and send it back to us in the comfort and safety of our laboratories on earth. But why do that when we can go there and experience the universe for ourselves?

And that is a spirit that is sadly missing from Abrams' interpretation of Star Trek. Why does Kirk join Starfleet? Is it because he has a passion for adventure and discovery and expanding the horizons of human experience? Not according to these movies. In these movies, he does it because Captain Pike dared him to. Or maybe because he wants to pursue hot alien pussy, because both movies still treat Kirk like a cartoon horn dog whose eyes pop out of his head whenever a skirt walks by.

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Gaming for life...

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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'Silent Hill' is NOT about 'repressed guilt'; it's about occultism!'Silent Hill' is NOT about 'repressed guilt'; it's about occultism!03/04/2014 I was going through the comments on my posts a while back, and I came across a doozy of a comment by user Maiden T. I'm not going to replicate the entire post here, but you can review the comment at the link provided. In summary, the user asserts that Silent Hill, as a series, was never about occultism, and that all the games...

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